The first text message after Abner Logan’s first college start went to his father. The Maryland inside linebacker made four tackles against Wake Forest on Saturday afternoon. One went for a loss. So as the Terrapins stewed over their 34-10 defeat, he texted his father, also named Abner, a former track and basketball athlete at Boston College.
“Hey dad,” the younger Logan wrote. “What’s up? You see the game?”
“Yeah,” his father joked. “Why you in?”
Five minutes before kickoff, Logan had learned that back spasms would sideline L.A. Goree, so the redshirt freshman would get the start. His season had been spent mostly on special teams, flying down the field on kickoff coverage. But starting requires more discipline and metal preparedness, so Logan told himself not to panic. He told himself to speak up and communicate, no matter what. And once his teammates started pumping Logan up for his debut assignment, the nerves disappeared.
“It’s just regular football,” he said Wednesday.
Logan had waited for this moment, but he embraced the wait all the same. In hindsight, his redshirt year in 2012 helped him learn the playbook and adjust to the speed of college football. Teammates consider him a hard-working downhill tackler, the same who forced a fumble against Florida International on his first college play in Maryland’s season opener. Fellow inside linebacker Cole Farrand called Logan “a rising star.”
“I thought Abner for his first game starting did a good job,” Coach Randy Edsall said. “As he gets more plays, more reps, I think he’s going to be a really good linebacker for us. It’s just him gaining that experience at that position. I was pleased with what he did. It wasn’t perfect. But he did good things there. You could see that he got better as the game went on. He has the ability to be a really good player for us.”
Logan credited position coach Keith Dudzinski with honing his fundamentals, but everything about his success comes from his father, who travels to College Park for almost every home game.
After Logan started against Wake Forest, and after his father overcame his feigned shock, the older Logan offered some predictable constructive criticism. He said Abner seemed tense, but got better as the game progressed. Abner understood. He felt the same way.
“He’s always been able to motivate me if I ever have problems with anything,” Logan said of his father. “He’s able to guide me, show me the right and wrong way of certain situations because he’s so knowledgeable of everything. He’s just a good parent. I’m fortunate because a lot of people out there don’t have both parents still. I’m just fortunate to have him. He’s never steered me in the wrong direction, so why doubt him now?”
When he’s at home in Massachusetts — he lives with his mother, Sherry Sanchez, and sister, Alanna — Abner is the man of the household. But that means the teenager with the Twitter handle @King_Ab46 takes out the trash and walks the dog. “That’s why I got out of there,” he said with a smile.
Logan chose Maryland over North Carolina State in late 2011, citing his preference for city living over what he saw as the more traditional college town in Raleigh. Dudzinski, who coached at Massachusetts, knew the New England landscape and helped land the state’s No. 3 prospect, whom the Wolfpack actually wanted as a running back.
Even though Logan had scholarship offers from Boston College, Connecticut, U-Mass. and Syracuse, among others, he had no intention of staying close to home. When his father studied at Boston College, the older Logan roomed with Mel Briggs and Phil Bennett, two Eagles football stars who later reached the NFL and became Abner’s two godfathers. According to Abner, they helped steer him away from Boston College.
“Plus that’s too close to home,” Abner said. “I’d probably have to do chores.”